DEUTERONOMY 4:1-49 | LUKE 6:39-7:10 | PSALM 68:1-18 | PROVERBS 11:28
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7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
Moses is telling the people how privileged they are, and how they ought to realize it and remember all the laws and decrees that God has given them over the last forty years.
And so, as they prepare to enter the “promised land”, Moses is giving the people a little refresher.
He goes on to reiterate one of the most fundamental laws that they are to observe, i.e., the one forbidding idolatry. And also, in addition to all molten and graven images, it is just as important that the elements of nature also not become objects of worship. The sun, the moon, the wind, the sea—these are not to be worshiped.
These are Moses’ very words: 15 You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20
And if this wasn’t clear enough, he says once again: 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Moses goes on to say that if, God forbid, the later generations forget these precepts and turn away from the living God, there will be consequences, and yet, he says, God will not forget you completely. 31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.
And almost as a final benediction, Moses says to the children of Israel: 39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.
Turning to Luke, we see Jesus’ teachings. On the wisdom and importance of introspection in looking within ourselves to correct the flaws that may exist therein before we go rushing to help our brother with his flaws, Jesus says: first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
On the difference between a listener of the word and a doer of it, Jesus offers up a parable of the builders: the one who listens and practices what he has heard is the one who builds a foundation far and deep so his house stands firm when the storm comes; the one who listens only and does not put into practice what he has heard is likened to the builder whose house is built on sand and it is knocked down when the storm comes.
We also find in this passage an amazing story of faith as witnessed by Luke. There is a centurion, a senior-ranking official in whose house a lowly servant is lying sick, and when Jesus is entreated by some folks to go to the centurion’s house to heal the ailing servant, Jesus accedes.
But when the centurion sees Jesus approaching his house, he immediately sends word to Jesus, saying: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Jesus marvels at the man’s faith, and says this: “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
Our Psalm for the day is one in which David is recalling God’s might and provision to his ancestors from the time of their exodus out of Egypt, through their sojourn in the desert, and until they come upon the banks of the Jordan. Reference is made to the land of Bashan that we just read about in our readings in Deuteronomy.
How good it is to reflect on the mercies of the Almighty!
Finally, the verse of the day from Proverbs is a good one to bear in mind at all times:
28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.